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Iron Bowl significant again this year

The Iron Bowl has never suffered from malnutrition.
Around these parts, when the University of Alabama plays Auburn University, it's the most important football game played each year regardless of the stakes. But it's much bigger than a regional contest this season.
The rest of the country has now caught on to the state of Alabama's year-round obsession, and there's no secret why.
It could be because of the recently released ESPN documentary "Roll Tide/War Eagle." It could be because ESPN will broadcast "College Gameday" in Auburn on Saturday morning. It could be because this is the fourth consecutive Iron Bowl that has direct implications on who plays in the BCS title game. Or it could be because Alabama and Auburn have claimed the last two national championships.
Whatever the reason, there is no mistaking that this year's Iron Bowl will have the attention of every college football fan in the country.
If No. 2 Alabama beats Auburn on Saturday, it is more than likely that the Crimson Tide will play for its second BCS title in three seasons. If Auburn tops Alabama, Tiger fans will boast with almost as much pride as they did when Auburn hoisted the trophy last year.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik acknowledged the rivalry has taken on more national attention given the recent success of both programs.
"I think probably from a national spectrum maybe so," Chizik said. "I think in-state here, I think it's always been about as big as you can get. I think from a national perspective, just people from the outside looking in, you know the fact that we both won a national championship in the last two years has probably given it some extra attention."
Given the upheaval this past weekend, when No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson all were upset by underdogs, Alabama is now squarely in the driver's seat to reach the BCS championship game in New Orleans on Jan. 9, 2012. But that only happens if Alabama beats Auburn.
The Crimson Tide struggled against the triple option rushing attack of Georgia Southern, allowing 302 yards.
When asked if his team would try any of what Georgia Southern did against Alabama's top-ranked defense, Chizik offered a light-hearted moment.
"Not unless I find an option quarterback here in the next week," Chizik said. "I have watched the film, and Georgia Southern did a good job. It's a difficult offense to defend because you don't see it very often. No, we're going to do what we do."
Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.